Baltimore Immigration Attorney for IT & Engineers
The immigration processes for information and technology professionals and engineers follow the same procedures. Generally, the first step in obtaining immigration status to work in the U.S. is the H-1B. The H-1B is the most widely publicized visa issued by USCIS. With only 65,000 H-1B visas available every year, the opportunity to obtain the H-1B rises and falls with the U.S. economy.
The H-1B Process
The H-1B process is fairly straight forward. The first step is for the employer to obtain a Labor Condition Application approved through the United States Department of Labor. Once this is approved the H-1B petition and associated documents can be submitted to USCIS. If the employee is already in the U.S and is simply changing employers, the employee can begin working as soon as the petition is filed. If the H-1B petition is for a new H-1B then the employee cannot begin work until October 1 of the fiscal year that the H-1B is filed.
The largest hurdle in obtaining H-1Bs for individuals in the IT and engineering field is proving the existence of the employer-employee status. A memo issued by USCIS in January of 2010, makes it difficult to establish the required relationship. Therefore any H-1B petition must now be carefully tailored to anticipate requests for evidence (RFE’s) issue in light of this relatively new USCIS guidance.
Once approved, the H-1B is valid for a period of three years. It can be renewed for an additional three years, for a total of six years.
Lawful Permanent Residency (Green Card)
In order to stay beyond the six year H-1B period, the first step in the lawful permanent residence (Green Card) application, the PERM application, must be filed before the end of the fifth year. The PERM process requires the employer to engage in an actual recruitment campaign to attempt to fill the position being offered to the foreign national. At the end of this two month recruitment, the employer files an application with the Department of Labor seeking to have the DOL certify the position as proper to hire a foreign national.
Once the PERM application is approved, the employer can file the I-140, employment-based visa on behalf of the employee. In some cases the I-140 can be filed simultaneously with the application to change status to a lawful permanent resident.
- Investors – While there are many investor visas, the EB-5 is most well-known. The investor must invest a sum that employ ten workers in the United States full time. A successful EB-5 petitioner is granted conditional lawful permanent resident status for two years. At the end of the 2 years, he or she must demonstrate the results of the investment to adjust status.
- Healthcare Providers – Doctors, dentists, and nurses may qualify for special healthcare visas. We work with healthcare providers to ensure that skilled medical professionals are available.
- Engineering & Information Technology (IT) – The H1-B visa is always a hot topic in the news. 65,000 H1-B visas are available yearly to ensure that American companies are able find skilled engineers and computer specialists. An H1-B is initially valid for three years and can be renewed for an additional 3 years.
- Researchers – Those with extraordinary ability may qualify for a temporary O-1 visa. A National Interest Waiver or Outstanding Researcher are two types of visas for researchers.
- Artists & Entertainers – Performing entertainers may be eligible for a P-visa. P-visas are broken into three categories: top performers, performers from countries that participate in a reciprocal exchange program, and for cultural exchange.
Columbia, MD 21046